LisBiz Strategies: How to get close to millennial customers

Home Columns LisBiz Strategies: How to get close to millennial customers

April 25/May 2, 2016; Volume 30, Number 22

By Lisbeth Calandrino

Maybe you’ve never heard of crowdfunding, but it may just be the way to your new customer’s heart.

Although we keep hearing that millennials—or Generation Y—don’t yet have money to spend and are underemployed, they will soon have more economic power than the baby boomers. If you’re going to have them as customers, you will have to figure out how to create a millennial-friendly sales and customer service staff.

There are six traits that distinguish millennials from other generations:

  1. They want everyone to get along, and they think everyone should be able to. As authors Van den Bergh and Behrer put it, “Contrary to previous generations, GenYers were brought up in an atmosphere of equal relationships and co-decision-making.” They are interested in collaborating with the brand. One of the ways you can get closer to this customer is to help your favorite charity raise money. Businesses should consider crowdfunding with their favorite not-for-profit and asking their customers to help. This will solidify your brand in the eyes of this new customer. Crowdfunding is a way of backing a project by raising small amounts of money typically using the Internet. (GoFundMe is a website that helps with such efforts.) In addition to raising money, crowdfunding fosters awareness.
  2. As marketer J.D. Peterson puts it, “Millennials simply expect technology to work because that’s been their experience.” They love mobile technology so you will have to make sure yours is up-to-date and functional. In addition, your sales force must be familiar with all of your technology, including social media. In addition, millennials are more likely to have cell phones as their only phones; 41% of this group have no landline.
  3. “A shopping habit that sets millennials apart from non-millennials is their tendency to shop in groups and seek the opinions of others,” said marketer Jeff Fromm. More than two-thirds of millennials, according to Fromm’s research, “don’t make a major decision until they have discussed it with a few people they trust,” compared to around half of all non-millennials.
  4. As Boston Consulting Group reports, “The vast majority of millennials report taking action on behalf of brands and sharing brand preferences in their social groups.” They talk with friends and make decisions with them. It’s up to you to determine how to connect with them and their peers.
  5. It’s no secret that many GenYers live at home and discuss many of their decisions with their parents. What you may not know is they enjoy talking and spending time with their parents as well. I recently shared an Uber with a millennial. He told me he lived with his mother and often made dinner for both of them. I asked if he was planning on moving; he replied there wasn’t any reason to because he loved living with her. This seems so strange to me since I come from a generation that couldn’t wait to get away from their parents.
  6. Millennials are not looking for more customer service; they are looking for different customer service. They are seeking a combination of streamlined electronic and human communication. These two elements should work hand-in-hand, seamlessly.
  7. GenYers love experiences. This is the group that would be happy to attend a party in your store, particularly if it grows out of an online meetup. The more you can combine the two, the more you look like you fit into their world. And don’t forget: When you invite these new customers there’s a good possibility they will bring their parents with them.

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